Thursday, June 12, 2014

Building a Bridge With Echolalia

originally posted at

The key to understanding echolalia is to recognise that it's not meaningless, purposeless or mindless repetition. It's communication.

In part one of this post we looked at lots of possiblefunctions for echolalia, now let's see how you can use it as a powerful tool for helping you to connect with your kids.

Echolalia is an interesting but commonly misunderstood behaviour. Most kids do it at some point, and autistic kids can continue with it for longer and even into adulthood. Many approaches seem to advocate finding ways to fix, control or eliminate the behaviour - but not only is this not in your kids' best interests, it's missing out on a wonderful opportunity to connect with them.

Don't stop it
Being able to repeat speech and sounds is an important expressive outlet for kids who might be struggling with spoken language. Taking that away deprives them of the chance to communicate their emotions, calm themselves, get the hang of conversation, practice making sounds and reduce the anxiety involved with communicating verbally.

Don't ignore it
It's easy to tune out to words that don't make any sense to you (or run and hide from phrases you've heard a zillion times), but in doing so you're missing out on a valuable opportunity to acknowledge your kids' attempts to communicate. Even if they're just having fun, isn't that something you want to be a part of?

Understand it
Figuring out why a certain set of sounds are being repeated can be a challenge, especially if they don't make any sense to you. The trick is to look beyond the words - listen to the tone, cadence and rhythm of what is being said. That might give you a better clue as to the source of the echo, which in turn will give you more context to work with. Also pay attention to the accompanying behaviour - if they're overexcited then they might be using echolalia to calm down, if they're engaged with you and enjoying themselves then they might be filling in conversational gaps.

To read more, click here...

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